You might hear “weightlifting” or “weight training” and think of hulking muscles and professional wrestlers. If you are trying to trim inches and shed pounds, you might also — understandably — think weightlifting has nothing to offer you.
This is an unfortunate and widely held misconception we need to correct, pronto. Anyone can utilize weightlifting exercises, and not bulk up but size down, as weightlifting can help you burn fat, improve body composition, and get toned. What’s more, weightlifting offers numerous other health benefits. As Alexander Koch, Ph.D., associate professor of exercise science at Lenoir-Rhyne University explains, “Lifting weights is excellent for improving bone density, joint mobility, and body composition, and relieving anxiety and depression.”
Weight training is a type of strength training using weights for resistance. This training provides stress to the muscles causing them to adapt and get stronger, similar to the way aerobic conditioning strengthens your heart. Weight training can be performed with free weights, such as barbells and dumbbells, or by using weight machines.
You don’t have to spend a lot of time doing it to reap the rewards!
As the Mayo Clinic points out, “You can see significant improvement in your strength with just two or three 20 or 30-minute weight training sessions a week.” (This is in addition to the recommended 150+ minutes of aerobic exercise per week.)
Follow these five recommendations, adapted from the Mayo Clinic guidelines, to maximize results and minimize the risk of injury:
- Learn proper technique. If necessary, work with a trainer or other fitness specialist.
- Do a single set. A single set of 12 repetitions with the proper weight efficiently effectively builds muscle.
- Use the proper weight. The proper weight tires your muscles after roughly 12 to 15 repetitions.
- Start slowly. Your muscles need time to heal and adjust.
- Take time to rest. Allow one full day between exercising each muscle group.